Monday, August 10, 2009


Moon is the best sci-fi thriller of the past several years. In fact, you might have to go much further back to find a comparable film. This is a difficult one to review without giving too much away. So forgive me for being vague, but I don't want to tell anything that's not given away in the trailer. Suffice it to say that Duncan Jones in his feature length debut throws a fair share of curve balls at you.

In the future we are harvesting clean burning H3 from the surface of the Moon. This mostly automated operation still requires a crew of one. We find Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) a few weeks from the end of his three year contract. As can be expected from anyone spending 3 years alone on the Moon with your only companion being a computer (even though it's voiced by Kevin Spacey), Bell is losing his marbles. He's been talking to himself for years, and is starting to see things. A wrench is really thrown into the works when he goes out and finds a wreck. Inside the vehicle is...well...himself. This is as far as I can go without giving too much away. But I guarantee that whatever you're thinking right now, is wrong.

It would be a disservice to say that this movie has a twist ending. It has a twist, but it happens halfway through. Moon then proceeds to do what almost no movie like it does- takes that twist and actually develops it. It quickly wears off as being twist, and proceeds to be simply an intriguing plot. There are far too few movies that turn your expectations on their head like this.

There are essentially two character- Sam Bell, and GERTY (the computer). It takes a true acting powerhouse to carry a movie solo. John Cusack managed to do it a few years ago in 1408, and though I haven't seen it (I know, I'm ashamed) Tom Hanks allegedly did the same in Castaway. I'm putting Rockwell among those ranks. He's been around for quite a while, and despite some amazing roles (Frost/Nixon, Choke) he doesn't seem to resonate as a true leading man. I seriously hope he gets more notoriety than he has from his already deserving career, because he turns out a brilliant performance in Moon. This is, of course, matched by Spacey's GERTY who seems to be channeling Hal 9000. GERTY made me realize for the first time, how emotive a simple smiley or frownie face can actually be.

Moon is simply a wonderful piece of work. For (what I'm assuming) was a fairly low budget, it looks pretty good. Jones returned to sci-fi roots by using mostly practical models for set pieces and Moonscapes. I'm glad, because the few CG elements really did not look very good. In a movie with so much claustrophobia, despite being sci-fi, does not require visual extravagance. Jones balances this perfectly, not attempting more than he could, and executing what he did perfectly. Moon is a fascinating, and at parts, a heartbreaking, sci-fi thriller. Don't be fooled by the trailer. It makes it seem like an action movie. In reality it's purely about the character development- exactly as it should be.


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